The prize, created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2017, aims to represent Hungary’s recognition for achievements of outstanding literary translations allowing foreign readers to read works of classic and contemporary Hungarian literature in their own language. The Balassi Prize for Literary Translation is the first state prize of in this field with no other alike, therefore, it is expected that it will serve as a motivation for those international translators whose work involves Hungarian literature.
The Balassi Prize for Literary Translation can be awarded to a literary translator who through their achievements and with the quantity and quality of translated works have contributed to the international recognition of Hungarian literature and whose reputation in professional circles is outstanding. In their evaluation, the professional board of trustees also considers the candidate’s contribution to the professional development of younger generations of translators. Translators are
nominated by Hungarian cultural institutes and missions abroad that are well acquainted with the language into which the text was translated. The winner is chosen by a professional board of trustees, supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, consisting of leading representatives of the Petőfi Literary Museum, the Hungarian literary industry and writers' associations.
The Prize comprises of a small sculpture made by the Munkácsy Prize-winning sculptor and coin artist Friedrich Ferenc, an ornate diploma and a cash prize of 3,500 euros.
The Prize is awarded each year on World Translation Day (St. Jerome's Day, 30 September).
The first iteration of the Prize was awarded by the Board of Trustees in 2017 to Adan Kovacsics, a Chilean born in Hungary. In 2018, Árpád Vickó, a translator born in Novi Sad, received the prestigious professional state award for his interpretation of Hungarian works of literature into Serbian. In 2019, Polish literary translator Teresa Worowska received the recognition.
This year, the presentation of the Balassi Prize for Literary Translation took place on October 1, 2020, at 5 pm in the Great Hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in a ceremonial setting. This year's award-winning Yuri Pavlovich Gusev (1939) is a Russian translator who has translated more than forty independent volumes of fiction into Russian and has published translations in numerous short stories and anthologies of poems. His translations of [Bálint] Balassi and [Kelemen] Mikes
stand out from his work spanning ages and styles.
Due to epidemiological restrictions, Yuri Pavlovich Gusev joined the event through live video from the Hungarian Embassy in Moscow. The award was presented by Dr Orsolya Pacsay-Tomassich, State Secretary for the Hungarian Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and for the Stipendium Hungaricum Program. The laudation was delivered by Zsuzsanna Hetényi, a literary translator, literary historian and university professor. Furthermore, the event included performances Ditta Rohmann cellist and Nelli Szucs and Zsolt Trill actors.